Two radio ads for telecommunications provider Plusnet, heard on 3 March 2017:
a. The first radio ad promoted a broadband package offer. The voice-over stated, “If you’re after a great deal on broadband, Plusnet is here to help. Unlimited broadband and line rental from just £18 a month, for 18 months. Plus a one-off £10 activation fee … Get unlimited broadband and line rental from one simple monthly price of just £18. Now with £50 cashback. Offer ends 14th of March. Visit Plus.net now. Plusnet, we’ll do you proud. Prices may change. 18 month contract. New customers in low cost areas only. Traffic prioritisation applies. See plus.net/traffic. Terms apply.”
b. The second radio ad promoted a mobile tariff offer. The voice-over stated, “Pump up your mobile people. Plusnet have an amazing £7.50 plan. Now with double data. 2 gig data, 1,000 minutes, unlimited texts, £7.50 a month. That’s more mobile than your hand can handle. Pick from a range of new 4G sim only plans on flexible 30 day contracts. All backed up by Plusnet’s brilliant customer service. Visit Plus.net/mobile today. Plusnet, we’ll do you proud. Standard UK minutes and texts. Prices may change. Rolling monthly contract. Offer ends 14th of March. Terms apply. See Plus.net/mobile.”
The complainant, who believed that the terms and conditions in ads (a) and (b) were spoken too quickly and therefore unintelligible, challenged whether the ads were misleading.
Plusnet plc stated that they believed the terms and conditions at the end of both ads (a) and (b) could be heard, were spoken at an acceptable speed and that they were therefore intelligible. The terms were read in the voice of ‘Plusnet Joe’, which was used throughout the ads, and were presented at the pace in which they were spoken by the voice-over artist; the terms had not been speeded up in post-production. They did not believe the ads were misleading and any qualifications or limitations had been clearly set out. However, they said they had recently reviewed their radio ads and were in the process of revising those ads so that they were read at a slower speed and more clearly.
Radiocentre said they felt the terms and conditions at the end of both ads could have been presented more clearly. They stated that they had cleared the scripts for both ads with the advice that important qualifying or legally required information must be read in a way that could be easily heard and understood by the listener, for example, in relation to speed and clarity.
The ASA noted that in ad (a), which promoted a time-limited broadband package offer, the statements after “Plusnet, we’ll do you proud” indicated that the monthly price could change during the term of the contract, and that the offer was only available to new customers in ‘low cost areas’. We also understood that a traffic prioritisation policy applied to users under the package. In relation to ad (b), which also promoted a time-limited mobile tariff offer, the statements after “Plusnet, we’ll do you proud” indicated the offer end date, that the prices might be subject to change and that the contract was a rolling monthly contract.
We considered those conditions were material information that consumers required in order to make an informed decision, and therefore must be presented to listeners in a clear and intelligible manner. We noted that the terms and conditions that followed the statement “Plusnet, we’ll do you proud” in both ads (a) and (b) were spoken at a much faster pace compared to the rest of the ad. We considered that the words were difficult to make out and that they had been delivered too quickly to be understood by listeners. Because those conditions had not been presented in a clear and intelligible manner, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ads breached BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Advertisements must not mislead consumers by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that consumers need in context to make informed decisions about whether or how to buy a product or service. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead consumers depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the advertisement is constrained by time or space, the measures that the advertiser takes to make that information available to consumers by other means. (Misleading advertising), 3.10 3.10 Advertisements must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. and 3.11 3.11 Qualifications must be presented clearly.
BCAP has published Guidance on Superimposed Text to help television broadcasters ensure compliance with rule 3.1 3.1 Advertisements must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. . The guidance is available at:
The ads must not appear again in their current forms. We told Plusnet plc to ensure that significant limitations and material information were presented in a clear and intelligible manner in future ads.